It really didn’t take long for me to get itchy feet again and get out on the bike after the end of the season. I did manage two weeks of total rest from the bike, I spent these weeks with my family, catching up with friends and spending a lot of much needed time with my girlfriend.

Sometimes it’s nice not to be a bike rider, eat what you want, drink what you want and do what you want without the nagging feeling of ’is this going to affect my next training session or even build up to affect my next race or big target of the season?’.

Out on the bikes in Limoux.

I remained active in these two weeks and walked further in one day in the Yorkshire Dales than I probably walked in the whole of the Cross season, weirdly enough I enjoyed it!

Shopping in Leeds, eating out on plenty of occasions and a messy night out in Newcastle was among the highlights of my two weeks.

The third week involved starting my gym work and trying to get my legs to go round in a circle again.

Whenever you restart in the gym it’s painful and this time was no different, working to a new programme though it wasn’t as bad as previous years, thank God. Bike riding remained very much a social activity, riding my MTB with mates and enjoying getting back on the bike with plenty of café stops; in fact I didn’t complete a ride without at least one stop per ride.

At the end of my time off was one of my Bi-annual visits to my sponsors HQ aka Hargroves Cycles towers.

This was combined with a team launch, where the whole team came together for an evening to pick up new kit, have the obligatory team photo and head shots taken and discuss plans with the team. It was great to meet up with everyone on the team and hear what everyone had planned for the upcoming summer and hear of tales from the past winter.

I had a meeting with Pete Hargroves himself and the Specialized team marketing head honcho to put together plans for next season already.

It’s always an exciting time discussing plans for new bikes and equipment while putting into place a race programme where obviously my goals will be set into. It gives me a real black and white picture of why and what training I have to do over the next five months to turn those dreams into reality.

Enjoying the sunshine in France.

It might sound strange but I like having outside pressures put on me to succeed and although the team never really do this, just from hearing how much time and money people are putting into the team really drives me on to achieve. I’ve always been a bit of a team player but been frustrated doing team sports because of being let down by other players so this scenario is perfect for me.

I can’t reveal all on what special stuff I will have next season just yet but I’m very excited already and I’m sure you will love everything when you see it.

Before properly getting back on the bike it was time to go and pick up a new powertap system for me to train with. This was very kindly set up by Mark Walker who I have been in contact with for a couple of years now, Mark is so enthusiastic about Cross and knows his stuff when it comes to the science behind riding a bike fast. He’s is currently working on power output data during Cross races and as I helped with this I in turn receive all the numbers back in an easy to understand way.

I’m hoping by training with the powertap throughout the summer I can really make the most of my training and take another step forward to my goals. I know this is only an aid and I’m the first to say it doesn’t matter what the computer says it matter how fast you go and how many races you win.

Two weeks of riding with the powertap had passed and it was time to do a power test, it’s never nice doing one of these but especially not when you are unfit having 3 weeks off. It had to be done though and I got the relevant data from it to move forward and start using the powertap in the correct way. It was also time to stop just trying to get the legs going again and get some miles and strength back into my legs.

Off to Carcassonne I went, with the new partnership between Hargroves Cycles and the UK’s number one women’s team Matrix fitness, myself and Andy Hargroves have joined the ladies training camp for two weeks good weather.

Bit of an arty shot, taken on the training camp.

The roads here are perfect for that early season training, you can literally go a couple of hours without seeing a car. The roads are undulating with a few 15-20min climbs where you can get stuck in and push on the pedals and carry out specific power work.

On returning from here I have two weeks to get a few more specifics in for my first racing block of the season which kicks off with the Rutland Classic on the 29th April.

Until then,

Ian

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